SJC welcomes new Japanese outreach coordinator
The community outreach efforts of the Soga Japan Center were expanded in fall 2009 with the addition of Michiko Yoshimoto, who will serve as the center’s Japanese outreach coordinator to promote Japanese culture, society and language throughout West Michigan.

Yoshimoto came to Western Michigan University via the Japan Outreach Initiative offered jointly by the Japan Foundation Center for Global Partnership and the Laurasian Institute. Applicants selected to participate in this competitive two-year program have excellent English skills, a good command of Japanese culture, geography, history and culture, and possess an outgoing personality.

 While at WMU, Yoshimoto will achieve her main goal of increasing interest in Japan through outreach activities in local K-12 schools, libraries, community centers and on campus. Examples of activities that Ms. Yoshimoto will conduct include Japanese calligraphy and origami demonstrations, presentations about traditional Japanese clothing, and reading/telling traditional Japanese stories to children. 
Originally from the city of Miura in Kanagawa prefecture, Yoshimoto says, “Although the population of Miura is similar in size to that of Kalamazoo, Kalamazoo’s downtown is much bigger than Miura’s.” Situated on a peninsula about an hour south of Tokyo, Miura is famous for its Misaki Tuna, Miura Daikon (a type of white radish), and its native watermelon.
After graduating from Yokohama City University with a degree in sociology, Yoshimoto worked for seven years for the local Miura city government as a member of staff for sister city and volunteer programs within the Board of Education. She later went on to work for the Urban Policy Institute of Yokosuka city, the Policy Management Department of Miura, and the Japanese Exchange and Teaching Program before she was accepted by the Japan Outreach Initiative.
Additionally, Yoshimoto is a member of the board of directors of the Never Ending International Work-camps Exchange, a non-governmental and non-profit organization which sponsors work-camp events in local communities in Japan and East Asia focusing on environmental protection, community revival and promoting global friendship.
“I have participated in many international work-camps, which are volunteer projects that last for a few weeks, in Cambodia, Thailand, Italy, and Japan," Yoshimoto said. “Although I have travelled to about 15 countries, this is my first time living abroad.”
Yoshimoto brings her experience of working with community outreach and youth organizations to her current position as the Japanese Outreach Coordinator, and we are very excited to be working with her at the Soga Japan Center!  
If you are interested in contacting Ms. Yoshimoto about arranging Japan programs at your school or community center, please contact Ms. Yoshimoto at michiko.yoshimoto@wmich.edu.